Reppetto, Thomas A. 1932(?)-
Reppetto, Thomas A. 1932(?)-
Born c. 1932, in Chicago, IL; son of George (a saloonkeeper) and June (a civilian employee of Chicago Police Department) Reppetto; married second wife, Christa Carnegie (a lawyer); children: one daughter. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D.
Home—Westchester County, NY.
Chicago Police Department, Chicago, IL, 1952-70, rose to commander of detectives; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY, professor and vice president; Citizen's Crime Commission, New York, president, 1979—.
Residential Crime, Ballinger (Cambridge, MA), 1974.
The Blue Parade, Free Press (New York, NY), 1978.
(With James Lardner) NYPD: A City and Its Police, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2000.
American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Bringing Down the Mob: The War against the American Mafia, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.
Thomas A. Reppetto "is that rarity, a former crime stopper who rose to become commander, and improbably earned a doctorate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University," reported Glenn Collins in the New York Times. In addition, Reppetto has embarked on something of a second career, chronicling the New York City Police Department and its Mafia foes in a number of well-received histories.
NYPD: A City and Its Police tells the story of America's oldest police force from its founding in 1845 to the present day. What began as a small force of 800 men with little bureaucracy soon evolved into a complex, entrenched institution dominated by Tammany Hall for much of its history and still plagued by graft, corruption, and instances of brutality. "There is no shortage of drama in ‘NYPD,’" noted Washington Post reviewer Jabari Asim, "particularly in the pages devoted to the outsize personalities who walked a beat in times past." Reppetto and his coauthor, journalist James Lardner, bring to life heroes such as Johnny Cordes, the only officer to win the departmental medal of honor twice, and villains like Charles Becker, the only city resident to die in the electric chair. For Jeffrey Goldberg in the New York Times Book Review, "Lardner and Reppetto are at their most interesting when they talk about race and the N.Y.P.D. Unfortunately for the reader, they don't say enough about race, and this is an example of the book's greatest failure: they have simply decided to write about too much." Others were more impressed. Library Journal contributor Tim Delaney found it "a refreshingly new and in-depth approach to the nation's oldest police force." Booklist reviewer Vernon Ford concluded that in NYPD, "the authors bring to life the history of U.S. policing, warts and all."
In American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power Reppetto covers the rituals and shrewd strategies that have allowed Mafiosi to take their peculiar place as American icons. "Though the bookshelves cry for mercy under the weight of Mafia literature, Reppetto's book earns its place among the best, in part because he rarely lapses into belly-full-of-lead prose," commented Dan Barry in the New York Times Book Review. Instead, Reppetto lets the material provide the drama, as he describes the rise of the American Mafia from its humble origins in nineteenth-century Neapolitan and Sicilian gangs to the brutally effective "businessmen" known to modern movie audiences and FBI agents. "The mob was the scum of America's melting pot, with little education and no moral code," noted Robert Sherrill in the Washington Post Book World. "But as Reppetto points out, its members had a kind of tribal code and enough moxie that by the end of the 1930s, with their best years lying ahead, the dozen leaders of the national crime syndicate were very rich, were welcome in much of what passed for high society and had considerable influence in politics and commerce." Virginia Quarterly Review contributor Jon Kates found it "fascinating and thoroughly entertaining."
Reppetto looks at efforts by law enforcement officials to combat organized crime in Bringing Down the Mob: The War against the American Mafia. Among the successes the author details are the 1957 Appalachian raid that netted more than sixty top-level Mafia figures, the rigorous prosecution of mobsters by Robert Kennedy during the 1960s, the F.B.I.'s fight to rid Las Vegas casinos of mob influence, and the anti-racketeering statutes that helped bring down New York City crime boss John Gotti. In the New York Times Book Review, Vincent Patrick remarked that "general readers will benefit from Reppetto's cogent examples of how changes in the culture at large affected both the mob itself and the tactics employed by law enforcement. Organized-crime buffs will be familiar with much of the material, but unaccustomed to seeing it assembled into so big and coherent a picture." According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, "Reppetto demystifies the business and even makes its behavior and ways seem a normal part of the landscape," and a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the "exhaustive and fascinating study … of the scattered state of the Mafia today."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2000, Vernon Ford, review of NYPD: A City and Its Police, p. 1980; November 15, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power, p. 553; October 1, 2006, Connie Fletcher, review of Bringing Down the Mob: The War against the American Mafia, p. 10.
Business Week, September 4, 2000, "Behind the Blue Wall of Silence," p. 22.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of American Mafia, p. 1303; September 15, 2006, review of Bringing Down the Mob, p. 942.
Library Journal, July, 2000, Tim Delaney, review of NYPD, p. 117; December, 2003, Sarah Jent, review of American Mafia, p. 140.
New York Times, August 24, 2001, Glenn Collins, "A Champion of the Police Is Zealous about His Beat," p. B2.
New York Times Book Review, September 17, 2000, Jeffrey Goldberg, "New York's Finest," p. 6; January 18, 2004, Dan Barry, "Badfellas: In Its Heyday, the American Mafia Adopted a Corporate Sensibility," p. 26; February 25, 2007, Vincent Patrick, "Goodbye Fellas," p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2000, review of NYPD, p. 59, Mike Newirth, "PW Talks with Thomas Reppetto," p. 60; November 24, 2003, review of American Mafia, p. 54.
Time, October 16, 2003, R.Z. Sheppard, review of American Mafia, p. 127.
Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 2001, review of NYPD, p. S28; summer, 2004, Jon Kates, review of American Mafia, p. 267.
Washington Post, August 29, 2000, Jabari Asim, "Police Record," p. C3.
Washington Post Book World, January 18, 2004, Robert Sherrill, "Goodfellas: The Ups and Downs of Modern Mob Rule," p. 13.